A DAY IN VERONA &
THE VALPOLICELLA AREA
A DAY IN VERONA &
THE VALPOLICELLA AREA
Highlights of this tour:
Piazza Bra and the Arena
A walk in the Medieval center
The Arche Scaligere (tombs of the Della Scala family)
Castelvecchio and the Adige River
Church of San Zeno
A drive in the Valpolicella area
Finger food tasting
Verona is 2,000 years old. Because of its strategic position along the banks of the Adige River, halfway between the Alps and the Adriatic sea and halfway between Milan and Venice, it has always been a crossroads of flourishing commercial, financial, and cultural activities.
The powerful walls and the monumental gates of the city still testify to its importance as a military stronghold.
We begin our tour in Piazza Bra, a huge open space dotted with open-air cafes and endowed with a pleasantly provincial atmosphere.
The Veronese, busy with daily life, don’t even pay attention to the huge Arena, Verona’s most famous monument.
Built in the 1st century A.D., it is well known to all music lovers for the fantastic operas which are held here every year during the summer months.
The nearby pedestrian area reveals a series of “jewels”: Juliet’s home with its famous balcony, Piazza delle Erbe with its colorful daily market and the imposing facade of the Medieval City Hall.
Also found nearby are the tall brick Lamberti Tower, the Arche Scaligere, the elaborate late Gothic tombs of the Della Scala family, who ruled the city until it was conquered by Venice at the beginning of the 15th century.
Our walk continues along the river, which embraces the city in a wide curve, to Arco dei Gavi, originally built as a “private” triumphal arch (1st century A.D.) but later used as a monumental gate into the city walls.
Not far from Arco dei Gavi is Castelvecchio, the other celebrated symbol of Verona, a powerful Gothic castle scenically built right over the Adige.
The magnificent building, today a museum, exemplifies the pride of Can Grande Della Scala, lord of the city in the mid 14th century.
The final “gem” of our journey inside Verona is San Zeno, a masterpiece of Romanesque architecture, displaying large polychrome walls, a 10th century crypt, an altarpiece by the Renaissance painter Andrea Mantegna and a well preserved cloister.
In the afternoon we’ll drive to the nearby Valpolicella area, famous for its vineyards and above all for Amarone, one of the most prestigious aged red wines of Italy.
Amarone is almost legendary, born as a very fortunate “mistake”! Its unique and distinctive character comes from the addition of dried grapes during fermentation, and now that you are here, you cannot miss tasting it.
All around us, the gentle slopes of the hills are scattered with wide expanses of cherry, olive and peach trees.
On top of the surrounding hills, small villages are waiting for us. We will stop here to savor the food specialties of this generous land.
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“There is no world for me outside the walls of Verona, except purgatory, torture, and hell itself.”
Although Shakespeare never visited Verona, and Romeo and Juliet only belong to the realm of literature and poetry, these words, uttered by Romeo, are profoundly significant: Verona is a world unto itself, complex and complete in its visual richness, surrounded by its river and walls, like a magic circle.
The visitor that has entered the circle may experience the sensation of stepping into a chain of “enchanted” spaces, where history and legend, reality and fiction are so deeply fused together making them impossible to separate.
In a few minutes you can go from the almost fairytale-like Middle Ages of Castelvecchio, to the typical Venetian picturesqueness of Piazza delle Erbe.
Next we have a series of kaleidoscopic squares connected to one another. Finally, the wonderfully silent, dreamlike atmosphere of the Arche Scaligere.
We return to the affable “liston” (meaning the locals’ everyday promenade) of Piazza Bra and finally a visit to the great stone “eye” of the Arena, a mystic ring in the moonlight of a summer night.
You don’t even need to conjure up Juliet and her supposed romantic tomb…
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